The Wassenaar Arrangement is a group tasked with fostering transparency and increased responsibility in the transfer of dual-use goods and technology and conventional armaments. Read here to know more about the arrangement.
The Wassenaar arrangement aims to contribute to security and stability at the regional and worldwide levels. It is one of the international organizations in charge of exporting and transferring equipment and weapons that are nuclear, biological, and chemical.
In 2023, India, along with the presidency of G20, will assume the chairmanship of the Wassenaar Arrangement and United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
What is Wassenaar Arrangement?
The body came into being in 1996 to succeed the Cold War-era Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls.
The name comes from Wassenaar, a suburb of The Hague, where the agreement to start such a multi-lateral cooperation was reached in 1995.
Except China, all the other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council are signatories of the WA.
The Wassenaar Arrangement is headquartered in Vienna, Austria.
How does the Wassenaar Arrangement work?
The goal of the Arrangement is to “promote transparency and greater responsibility in transfers of conventional arms and dual-use goods and technologies“.
Participants are required to “ensure that transfers of these items do not contribute to the development or enhancement of military capabilities which undermine the goal”.
The aim, according to WA, is also to prevent the acquisition of these items by terrorists.
Since it is a voluntary export control regime, the 42 members exchange information on transfers of conventional weapons and dual-use goods and technologies.
- Through such exchanges, Wassenaar aims to promote “greater responsibility” among its members in exports of weapons and dual-use goods and to prevent “destabilizing accumulations.”
Unlike its predecessor, the Cold War-era Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls (COCOM), which was created to restrict exports to the former Soviet Union and Eastern bloc, Wassenaar is not targeted at any region or group of states, but rather at “states of concern” to members.
Wassenaar members also lack veto authority over other members’ proposed exports, a power that COCOM members exercised.
To promote transparency, Wassenaar calls on states to make a series of voluntary information exchanges and notifications on their export activities related to weapons and items appearing on the arrangement’s two control lists:
For the Munitions List (Conventional Weapons)
Every six months, members exchange information on deliveries of conventional arms to non-Wassenaar members that fall under eight broad weapon categories:
- battle tanks
- armored combat vehicles (ACVs)
- large-caliber artillery
- military aircraft/unmanned aerial vehicles
- military and attack helicopters
- missiles or missile systems
- small arms and light weapons.
For the Dual-Use Goods and Technologies List
Tier 1: Basic Items
- Twice per year, members exchange information on all export licenses denied on proposed transfers to non-Wassenaar members.
Tier 2: Sensitive Items and its subset of Very Sensitive Items
- Within 60 days, members are requested to notify the Wassenaar Secretariat of any export licenses denied on proposed transfers to non-Wassenaar members.
- Twice per year, members exchange information on all export licenses issued or transfers made to non-Wassenaar members.
Significance of Wassenaar arrangement for India
- India could rely on the WA membership to strengthen its credentials for admission to the Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG) because it is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
- Importantly, China, which prevents India from joining the NSG, is not a member of WA.
- India can strengthen anti-terrorism efforts at the global level by pushing for curbing terror financing effectively.
- Indian home minister is presently the chair of the No Money for Terrorism (NMFT) ministerial initiative.
- India can push for a stronger anti-proliferation framework.
- A robust anti-proliferation framework for South Asia can be established by improving licensing and enforcement procedures under the WA and adopting additional export controls in fields including aviation technology, interception technology, and digital investigative tools.
- India can significantly contribute to the democratization of access to technologies and procedures that can act as fundamental building blocks for India’s rapidly developing space and defense manufacturing industries.
Other international bodies for weapons management
- Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT)
- Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR)
- Australia Group
- Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)
Previous year questions
Q. Recently, the USA decided to support India’s membership in multilateral export control regimes called the “Australia Group” and the “Wassenaar Arrangement”. What is the difference between them? (2011)
- The Australia Group is an informal arrangement that aims to allow exporting countries to minimize the risk of assisting chemical and biological weapons proliferation, whereas the Wassenaar Arrangement is a formal group under the OECD holding identical objectives.
- The Australia Group comprises predominantly Asian, African, and North American countries whereas the member countries of Wassenaar Arrangements are predominantly from the European Union and American Continents.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2
-Article written by Swathi Satish